There is an abundance of good Mexican food in Portland, much of it coming out of food carts scattered across the city. It's simple, cheap, and a bit one-dimensional. The next level separates the black from the refried, and Verde stands above those beans. This family-run cantina has a couple of locations and a booth at the farmers' market, and based on its success, more may spring up. They make everything on premises, with no deep fryer. Que lastima, no chips! That's right! The tortilla, warm and freshly baked, is what you'll get to sop up that salsa and guacamole. Verde Cocina also cures its own meats, insuring that chorizo in your fundido is perfectly prepared. This is a gluten-free shop, which has its limitations, but not in the flavor department. Spicing efforts go beyond the hot chili pepper, expertly executed in the mole sauce. They also have a vegetarian slant, if you're not into meat with your mole. The ceviche is a great way to kick things off.
I started visiting the original store over in Hillsdale, located in a funky roadhouse. The Pearl location is quite a step up in real estate. The interior is modern, yet maintains a south-of-the-border warmth. Big garage doors open in summer to let the PDX night in. The bar specializes in infusing tequilas, which make margaritas a must. The Pearl scene trickles in over an evening, providing plenty of visual entertainment. Now also located in Sylvan near the Zoo, it's even closer to me.